We had so much going on at home and at the neighbor's farm, it was freezing cold, and the biggest snow of the season was expected. By Friday night, Daniel couldn't decide if he wanted to take a cow or if he just wanted to have the boys buddy up with someone else. We decided to take a cow and I am glad we did. Chase teamed up with our boys because they had decided not to drive 3 hours in the snow with a trailer. We were able to let all 3 boys take turns with the clipping.
With the Ohio Beef Expo just a few weeks away, we were not about to let Isaac and Walker's untrained hands on a show cow. We have heard too many "oops!" We decided to pull Cece out of the field since she is already halter broke and is very calm and cooperative.
She was a sight! Daniel washed her on Wednesday because it was the only day anywhere near freezing. The plan was to wash her the morning of the clinic. It was barely above freezing and Cece is pregnant, so we scrapped the washing idea. We blew the chunks out with the blower and just did the best we could.
A couple of months back...when it was still bitterly cold. No, not this week when it was trying to decide if it was going to be sunny, windy, rainy or snowing....I mean when it was still below zero on a daily basis. We had the privilege to attend the Ohio Cattlemen's Assocation Novice Youth Day.
The Ohio Cattlemen's Association and Weaver Leather teamed up to bring the BEST Novice participants and 2 day hands-on clipping, fitting and showmanship seminar with Kirk Stierwalt.
Fourteen years ago we moved from a city apartment to our country home. We arrived here with two horses, lots of energy and big dreams.
When we moved here, I never dreamed that we would be raising or showing cattle. So much has changed.
Daniel wanted to sell the horses, but I resisted. On the surface that doesn't make much sense because I was the one that didn't really like the horses. However, I know my husband. I knew that he would sell the horses and then regret it. I wanted to be really sure that he was ready to give them up.
We all remember 2008 when the "sky was falling." The economy started to tank and everyone started "prepping" for the worst. Companies started laying off workers (mine included). Everyone was on pins and needles.
We realized that if one of us lost our job, we would be in trouble. The horses were costing us money, they weren't bringing any money at the sales and we certainly can't eat them in this country. We talked about selling the horses to buy a cow. At least we would eat when the sky fell.
The next day I rushed home from work to meet our new herd. One, two, three....four cows. Daniel looked at me and said "Merry Christmas!" Just what I wanted.
Isaac joined 4-H and naturally we showed a Miniature Hereford at the fair. He had a great time. Our vet encouraged us to show at the Ohio Beef Expo. We had absolutely no equipment and even less of an idea of what we were doing. We arrived at the 2013 Ohio Beef Expo with 1 heifer and no idea what we were in for. We had no idea what a "good" show cow looked like. Isaac walked out of the ring with Reserve Champion Female and a belt buckle.
We were hooked on the show ring.
Part of the American dream is to have a few beautiful rolling acres, a horse and a pond. Most people don't really realize that this dream is usually short lived. The rolling acres need mowed, the pond has scum on it and the horses become lawn ornaments. Most of our rolling acres is pasture or hay field, so there isn't much mowing. We don't have a pond, so we don't have any scum to worry about. However, we did have the hay burning lawn ornaments.
I hope I don't step on the toes of all the horse lovers...but I am not a horse lover. I thought horses were nice, until my prissy, mud hating horse decided to run down hills at full speed, run into trees and do just about anything I didn't want him to do. I took a nice tumble one day and my nerves never fully recovered. Even after buying a different horse, I just wasn't into it.
Our circumstances changed considerably over the years. Family and neighbors sold off land that we used to ride on and Papa sold his trailer. This left us with our hay field to ride in. Not very exciting. Then we had kids. You can't ride a horse with a toddler and an infant (at least I can't). Life got busy. My horse broke Daniel's back....that's a story for another day. The horses never got worked with, so when we did work them, they were a handful. Sometimes you just have to admit that the American dream just isn't your American dream.
I was searching around on the internet one day and I don't even remember what I was looking for. I ran across a website that was talking about miniature cattle. I perked up and started reading about all the advantages. The big thing that caught my eye was that they were great for small acreage. Bingo!
I called Daniel and he was immediately on board. We looked into both Lowlines and Miniature Herefords. To be honest, the only reason that we landed on the Miniature Hereford is because we like the way the red looks in the field better than the black. Besides, everyone has black and Daniel can't stand to be like everyone else.
Daniel started searching and ended up talking to Roy Largent himself. Roy and his dad started the breed out in Texas, so what better source for cattle than the source. It just so happened that Texas was in the middle of that horrible drought and ranchers were selling off as many cattle as they could. Daniel worked out a deal to buy 3 bred cows from Roy.
Roy was headed north with a load of cattle and agreed to meet Daniel in Missouri. Daniel, a neighbor and 3 year old Walker, borrowed a trailer and headed to Missouri. They backed the trailer up to Roy's trailer in the hotel parking lot and headed home with the start of our Miniature Hereford herd.
We have learned so much in the almost 6 years that we have been in the cattle business. We knew nothing about cows when they arrived here. We certainly don't claim to be experts, but we know what we know today because of a good vet, a lot of research, a lot of questions, doing things the hard way and making a ton of mistakes. We always joke that we are getting a college education one vet bill at a time.
I may not love horses, but horses were the path that led us to what we really love. Miniature Herefords are in our hearts and are here to stay. I can't imagine this farm with out them.
This weekend I am going to attend my 20th high school reunion. While I have stayed in contact with some of my classmates, there will be some that will be shocked to see me show up in bling jeans and cowboy boots.
Daniel and I both grew up smack dab in the middle of Columbus. Daniel then later moved to a suburb of Orlando, Florida with nothing but black top and concrete. Growing up I swore that I would never live more than 10 minutes from a mall. So...how did we end up on a farm?
While Daniel and I both lived in the city, we spent weekends in the country. My grandma lived on a 30 acre farm in, what was then, the outskirts of the city. She never had any animals or did anything more than a garden, but she had plenty of wide open spaces, woods to explore and a pond to catch salamanders in. We called the Cub Cadet riding mower a tractor and spent countless hours mowing the fields to keep the surrounding subdivision dwellers happy.
Daniel spent his weekends at his grandpa's house. His grandpa had 6 acres and his hobby was horse trading. Every weekend Daniel would go up and find a different horse in the barn. The only thing that was off limits was Daniel's pony named Star....at least until he outgrew him. Daniel, his grandpa and his aunt would trail ride on the the weekends. Grandpa baled hay at a neighbor's house and Daniel got a taste of that hard work. Daniel moved to Florida when he was 10, so by the time he was really old enough to learn the inner workings of farm life, he was away from it all.
Daniel moved back to Ohio after he graduated from high school and moved in with his other grandparents. They lived in the city, but had 300 acres in the country. Almost all of the property was wooded hills. They didn't have anything more than hunting dogs, but Daniel had plenty of elbow room. Here Daniel learned how to run tractors and equipment. One thing that his grandpa passed on to him was respect for the equipment and the importance of safety.
Daniel and I got married when we were 22 and 23. We moved into an apartment complex in the city. It was a big adjustment for us and an experience I hope I never have to repeat. I didn't do well with being able to hear our neighbor throw her shoes in the closet. We actually looked to buy a house in the city, but I always knew that Daniel wanted to move out.
About 6 months after we got married, we started spending a lot of time at a family members horse boarding facility. Daniel got the itch and we ended up with 2 horses. We started looking for a house again, but knew we didn't want to board the horses. This meant that the only option was land. Our budget and expectations were low. We wanted 5 acres and not a mobile or modular home. A year and a half later, we lowered our expectations a lot more. We were down to livable and had a bathroom sink (don't ask).
Our realtor was a saint to put up with us, and finally found us a place. We ended up with 11 acres and an old farm house that was not livable...at least by our standards. I guess you could say we were young, dumb and desperate.
We spent a month and a half gutting the house and trying to get it livable (if you consider not having a fully functioning bathroom or kitchen livable). We moved in 14 years ago this month. There was no fencing, stalls, hay field or really anything that we needed to bring the horses home with us.
So, only city slickers would do what we did in the picture above. We thought my horse would really like some of that fresh green grass since he had been in his stall all week. We tied a lunge line to a cement block and thought that he would just nibble around the yard. Fifteen minutes later we found the cement block without a horse attached.
Lesson learned...fencing moved to the top of the list.
The last 14 years have brought a lot of blood, sweat and tears to this place. We have turned it into the home that we love so much. A lot has been done, but there is still so much more to do.
We now have two boys who love to just be at home. They go back to Grandma and Grandpa's house in the city every day, but make no secret of the fact that they hate the city. The farm is where they want to be. We are so thankful that we are able to give our boys the experience of living in the country and working on the farm.
Living in the country is not easy. Everything is harder out here. You don't get to shovel the snow out of the driveway, you plow through the 3 foot drifts. The bugs are super sized and don't get me started on the wolf spiders. We share our home with uninvited guests of which I am too embarrassed to list.
We spend a lot of time in the car. Two hours a day of our lives is spent commuting. It isn't easy, but at least I am able to put a lot of distance between my job and home sweet home. We always say that we have a very close relationship with our car.
Would I ever move back to the city? Not by choice. The country is my home. It is were I love to be and where my family loves to be. It has been a journey, but one that I would take all over again.
Little by little, inch by inch...
It is hard to believe that we are one quarter of the way through 2015. Time flies when you are having fun.
This is probably a good time to see how many things we have checked off of our goal list.
We still have a long way to go, but at least this is a start.
Hello! I am Heather... the city girl turned mom to manure loving country boys. My husband and I both grew up in the city, but spent weekends visiting grandparents in the country. We are first generation farmers who learn best by almost always doing things the hard way. I hope you enjoy following along with our adventures down on the farm.